The styles of craft beer that sell best in America – think hop-forward – are stereotypically American. They’re big and bold and assertive. In many cases, they’re marketed this way. We’re asked on review sites to assess the aroma and the mouthfeel and consider whether the finish was smooth or boozy (you read that right: “boozy” is a word people have begun to use to describe, well, booze).
This is, of course, the way we like things in America. We want our steaks to be 32 oz. porterhouses; We apparently favor spasmodic bickering on TV to in-depth sports journalism; We like our trucks loud and our firework displays to be the biggest one yet; Even our president claimed his congressional address was called by “a lot of people” to be “single best speech ever made in that chamber.”
So why wouldn’t we expect our American craft beer to be the same way? Double-dry hopped IPAs; Bourbon barrel aged stouts; Fruit-infused ales; Coffee//vanilla/hibiscus/charcoal/ricin/whatever. All of these surging beyond 8% alcohol by volume. There comes a time at every tasting session where the entire group just concedes, “I literally cannot taste anything anymore.” We could substitute gravel for pretzels as a side snack and no one would notice.
Every once in a while, we have to go back to what first got us to where we are as drinkers, like when a pitcher, off his game throwing off-speed pitches, finally gets back to just throwing his fastball.
This is where Jack’s Abby House Lager comes in. After all, sometimes you just need a beer. No hops, no barrels; Nothing too big.
You have no idea how many times I’ve recommended this beer to skeptics only to have that person return later to tell me how right I was.”
Jack’s Abby is a lager-only outfit in Massachusetts (though they have recently birthed a second operation, Springdale, which makes ales). The star of their lineup is House Lager, a 5.2% helles that comes in 15-packs. It may not be the clean-up hitter, but more of a Joey Votto, the guy that’s going to get on base the most consistently.
House Lager pours a bright golden color with aromas of breadiness and nostalgia. There’s a sweetness in the beer that accompanies a depth of body. It also has a clean-finishing, slightly-bitter finish.
Before you know it, half the can is gone, and you’re planning your next trip to the cooler. On the usual, I’m a slow drinker, but this beer is easily crushed (man, I hate that word). It’s a perfect beer to accompany the warmer weather, too: Ice cold at a ball game, on the lake, or after a sweltering session behind a push-mower.
About this beer, I’m fond of telling people that there are times in a beer drinker’s life when she says, “I don’t want something strong or hoppy or dark or weird; I just want a beer.” And, in that inclination, there’s always a proclivity to go backward, to reach for that lager made by some corporate giant. Instead, grab a House Lager. You have no idea how many times I’ve recommended this beer to skeptics only to have that person return later to tell me how right I was.
Craft beer, unlike the macro lagers of our past, has never been about monogamy. It’s been about flirtations with other styles and brewers, but if there’s one beer that’s going to make this beer writer settle down, it’s House Lager.